NORMAN — Few people were as locked in on Sunday’s NCAA Tournament selection show as Marcus and Petra Woodard.
After days of immersing themselves in bracketology, wishfully searching for evidence that Oklahoma and Tulsa could be placed at the same subregional site, the Woodards were the only members of either fan base even the slightest bit disappointed.
Son Jordan Woodard and his Oklahoma Sooners are headed to Spokane, Wash., to play North Dakota State on Thursday. His brother, James, and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane will be in San Diego for a Friday game against UCLA. So for only the third time all season, Mom and Dad Woodard had a choice to make.
Split up, one with each son, or stay together and choose.
“It didn’t make it easy, but it’s an opportunity that you’re not guaranteed every year,” said Marcus Woodard. “Lot of people say it’s a good problem to have I guess.”
Jordan, OU's freshman starting point guard, is averaging 10.3 points per game and has given the Sooners an upgrade at the position. James, Tulsa's sophomore shooting guard, is the Golden Hurricane's leading scorer.
The former Edmond Memorial standouts, who were raised in nearby Arcadia, have a family that's plenty tight. They grew up in a house built right across the street from where their grandfather has lived most of his life. Marcus and Petra — and often plenty more family members — constantly made trips to Norman and Tulsa to watch the boys play college basketball.
On Feb. 15, the Sooners played at Oklahoma State while the Golden Hurricane hosted Old Dominion. James tried to talk his parents into both going to Stillwater, but they insisted on splitting up, with Marcus going to Bedlam and Petra to Tulsa.
Last week, Marcus went to the Big 12 Championships in Kansas City. Petra headed to El Paso for the Conference USA Tournament.
After the Sooners were eliminated Thursday, Marcus stayed in Kansas City until Saturday afternoon.
Friday night, he watched from a sports bar in Kansas City as James scored 19 to lead Tulsa to a come-from-behind win over Middle Tennessee State in the semifinals. Plenty of Kansas fans in the place wound up cheering to Tulsa — and former Jayhawks star-turned-Golden Hurricane coach Danny Manning — along with Marcus and his group.
“It turned out to be a great environment,” Marcus said.
Saturday, he watched from his hotel room as James scored 27 to lead the Golden Hurricane over Louisiana Tech and to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003.
Jordan got out of practice in Norman and rushed to a television to catch the end of the Conference USA championship game.
“That’s a real cool deal, me and my brother getting to experience this year,” Jordan said. “And they got a good matchup in UCLA. They’re on a hot streak, so hopefully they can keep it going.”
Marcus and Petra are going to be there — together — to see it.
Instead of splitting up like they’ve done in the past, the Woodards chose James, Tulsa and the beaches of San Diego. Uncle Walter, Marcus Woodard’s brother, got sent to Spokane with Jordan and the Sooners.
“We just sat around and talked ... that’s pretty much what we came up with,” Marcus said. “We’re a pretty tight family so as long as somebody’s there, we’re good.
“We did the split-up thing this past weekend, and it worked out. But me and my wife, we’d rather be together watching them play and my brother wanted to see them play as well.
“It just worked out that way.”
Editor's Note: This story has been revised to reflect Tulsa playing UCLA on Friday in San Diego.